XT ADVENTURES - If you want it then it’s possible!

At an age when most people begin to moor the boat of life to the dock of a safe haven, this Swiss couple traded the boat for two wheels and, with their backs to the dock, set off for other horizons.

Xenia and Martin, or “Tinu” for friends, met in Cusco, Peru, in 2012 while they were traveling through Latin America. With a common passion for motorcycles, adventure and travels, it was literally love at first ride! Five years later, and counting many more rides, they aimed for something a bit bigger. In February 2017, on top of two Yamahas XT, they embarked on an overlanding trip without a return date.

The project is called XT Adventures, doing justice to their initials and motorcycles’ name, and aims to tell the story of this adventure as well as encourage others to do the same by providing detailed information on all aspects of the trip; almost like a step-by-step manual. It's worth not loosing track of them!

Making the decision

They were traveling in Tanzania, amazed by the African culture and scenery, when they felt that the trip was too short for such an interesting country. Was it an idea to go back there for a longer time and actually see the whole continent? Yes, it was. And while these two dreamy minds were drifting into the idea, it was the travel bug that made them dream further. Back to reality though, the timing wasn’t the ideal, and even Xenia, who long travelled all her life, felt a bit of the pressure.

“I was 30 years old and Martin 32” says Xenia, “That’s an age where most want to start a family, build a house, get married and have a carrier jump. Nobody is leaving at this age. If people leave for a long travel they usually do it in their twenties or much later. For the first time I did have some thoughts like: is it ok to leave now? Are we ruining anything for our future if we go? Will we be able to get a job when we’re back? Specially in Switzerland people like to have a stable life and travel on their holidays. So, in our community people still think that what we did, and how we want to live our life, is a bit weird! Life is very good over there, so why leave it? That’s more or less the mentality over there.”

 

Under pressure or not, they had the guts to leave. Was it a mistake? They can guarantee you it wasn’t! Nothing pays more than pure freedom to discover the beautiful world we live in. And it isn’t that costly as many of us think it is. Is that what has been blocking you from doing something similar? Then keep an eye on their website because Xenia is taking notes of every cent they’re spending and she will share it with you.

“Most people actually think that to do an overlanding trip is way more difficult and much more expensive than it actually is. One of the biggest points is that people actually think you need to be a millionaire or have an amazing job where you can save up enough money to travel for a year. That is what I hear the most. I think it’s really important to show people that it is actually possible to do this!”

What they learned so far

Xenia and Martin consider themselves experienced when it comes to adventure traveling. All the small trips they’ve done during their holidays, camping in different environments and seasons, gave them the tranquillity of knowing exactly what to take and what not to take for this trip. They believe this is a good exercise to help you to understand how feasible long traveling can actually be.

“Going on a big trip, backpacking, on a motorbike or by car, can be a challenge sometimes,” they say, “you have very good days, but you also have really bad ones. Specially on a motorbike, it is better to have some experience before you head off for a long trip. Gear-wise for example, you better test the gear in order to know what you need to take for each kind of weather. This will help you to have a more relaxed time on your trip; at least you know that what you take with you actually works. You already have a lot of new difficult situations to deal with everyday when you’re travelling. I would recommend everybody to take one or two years and go travelling a little bit for one to three weeks in other countries and try the gear. Try riding and camping during winter, for example. Before we left, we went camping with minus 10 degrees just to test our camping gear.”

 

Talking about the weather: it is something you don’t want to forget about when you are planning your route. It’s not only about where you want to go, but also when you should go. You may need to compromise your experience in some countries in order to arrive at the perfect time of the year in others. And how big is the country? Yap, size does matter!

As Xenia says, “If you want to enjoy your trip, climate and seasons are an important detail. Some people don’t think about it too much and I think it’s quite important! We met some people that went to Iran and forgot that during a certain time of the year it’s impossible to visit its south area because it’s just too hot. People might had even looked at the climate information but Iran is huge, Teheran might have 40 degrees but then in the Dasht-e Lut desert, which is really beautiful, you can only go until April because after it can get up to 70 degrees. Make sure you check the climate from each region when travelling to a big country, in case you want to see a specific region.”

Even if you’re experienced and very well-prepared, there are setbacks you can’t avoid. For Xinjiang region, China, and Tajikistan, Xenia and Martin would have done things differently.  Xinjiang region was an unexpected disappointment. Not because of its nature or people but because the language barrier was almost unbreakable. The Chinese culture is so different that even the sign language is unusual and difficult to decipher. They definitely want to go back there one day but they’ll leave the motorcycles at home. Travelling with your own transport in China will cost you approximately 1000€ per week; paperwork and a mandatory guide makes the journey very expensive and bureaucratically painful.

Regarding Tajikistan, Martin says “One thing we would definitely change is the period we were in Tajikistan. We didn’t spend as much time as we actually wanted because the paperwork in Tajikistan is a bit complicated. For importing motorbikes you only get 15 days and you need to renew the papers. But that’s very difficult; you only have two or three places in the whole country where you can do that. Since they had told us that we would receive a 70 US dollars fine per day that we didn’t have the right papers upon leaving, we found ourselves in a very stressful situation and were hurried to fulfil the requirements. How funny it was, or not, to figure out that the border, which is at 4200 meter altitude, was patrolled by two drunk men who don’t care about the papers at all and don’t even have a computer. They couldn’t even check if we did the paperwork or not. It is something I regret a little bit because I would like to have seen more and explored more the country and all its remote places.

Best place for some dirt fun?

Kyrgyzstan! So far, Kyrgyzstan takes the prize. As they say “in Kyrgyzstan it doesn’t matter where you go, it is beautiful everywhere and there are lots of unpaved roads”. On top of that you can camp everywhere and the people will always make you feel very welcome. Martin assures “You’ll have a great time there!”

Where next?

Xenia and Martin are now in India. They will continue their trip to New Zealand and Australia taking some longer breaks over there. Something not many people talk about is the importance of giving your brain a break. They say usually it takes 3 months for your brain to be overloaded with new information. When nature doesn’t overwhelm you anymore, it is time to take a break!

“When you’ve seen so much already, nature starts to lose its impact” Xenia says. “You don’t even bother to take a picture anymore. At this point it’s time to take a break and give your brain a bit of routine. Do some work, for example.”

During their breaks they’ll take the time to upload all the new information about the travel on their website www.xtadventures.ch. They want it to be a place where you’ll easily find all the info you need to plan and execute an overland trip. It’s their way to give something in return from all the help they received from fellow travellers.

“We have received so much help through media and websites, or by writing to a lot of people just to ask about certain gear; it is nice to be able to give something back, inspire people and to help them to achieve their dreams”, they say, “because we totally get that some people are just overwhelmed by the information they get on the internet; it’s just too much. There are too many resources to gather from. On the internet you will already find some of the information we have in our platform, but we have it all in one place. And all the information we provide is also based on our own experience, it’s about what worked for us. And, hopefully, it will work for you too!”

Around January 2019, they’ll swipe the dust out of the pillions to ride from South Africa all the way up home.

Make sure to follow their journey on:

www.xtadventures.ch

www.facebook.com/xtadventures

www.instagram.com/xtadventures/

www.youtube.com/c/XTAdventures

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